Annually, about 14 million people learn they have cancer, and 8 million people die from the disease across the world. In 2010, cancer overtook heart disease to become the number one killer disease of mankind. This out-of-control cell growth has more than 100 types of sub diseases that ravage nearly any human part. However, screening can discover most cancers at an early and treatable stage and the statistics show that one-third of cancer deaths can be prevented once detected early.
The lethal potency of this disease and the glimmer of hope which early detection presents have combined to create a cause that has united governments, multilateral organizations, research centres, foundations, endowments, philanthropists and pharmaceutical companies. These entities have channelled and continue to channel spirited efforts and significant investments towards raising global awareness of cancer, providing screening and treatment facilities, and ultimately discovering a cure – a lasting solution to cancer.
RAISING THE BAR IN NIGERIA
In a bid to give millions in Nigeria a fighting chance against cancer through early detection, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) took up the mandate to mobilise funds to purchase 37 Mobile Cancer Screening Centres (MCC) . This campaign to raise awareness on the prevention and treatment of cancer in Nigeria was formally launched on February 25, 2013 in partnership with The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) during the commemoration of the International Corporate Philanthropy Day.
The (MCC) is a clinic on wheels, in which screening, follow-up and several forms of treatment (including surgeries) can take place. It includes facilities for mammography, sonology, and colonoscopy, with cryotherapy equipment for follow-up and treatment, and a side laboratory for prostate and colorectal cancer screening.
THE CALL TO A CORPORATE CHALLENGE
With clarity on how to tackle the cancer scourge, the bane to a successful intervention was how to raise funds and generate top of the mind awareness in a very engaging manner for people to buy into the concept of early detection.
Speaking on why NSE adopted the CSR platform to push the fight against cancer, Mr Bola Adeeko, Head of Corporate Services Division stated, “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this dreadful disease. Through this initiative, we want to provide access to early detection and treatment of cancer and contribute our own quota towards the reduction of the scourge. The funds we are raising will go toward the purchase of Mobile Cancer Centres across Nigeria that will provide screening access to the medically underserved and result in the early detection of several cases thereby significantly improving their prognosis.”
Leveraging its crucial role in supporting economic growth by providing an efficient and sustainable capital market which further provides access to decision makers and captains of industry, the Nigerian Stock Exchange launched the NSE Corporate Challenge, a 5-kilometre walk, run or jog race through the Business District of Lagos to raise awareness and funds to fight against cancer.
To participate, listed companies and broker dealer firms are expected to pay a fee that will go into the funds pool for the purchase of the MCCs. One would expect that subsequent editions be open to other companies outside the capital market to widen the pool of participants which can also increase funds that will accelerate the vision of procuring the 37 MCCs.
But given the top of the mind awareness level and participation in the last two editions, it does appear that the NSE corporate challenge is an idea whose time has come. It is fast becoming a rallying point for corporate Nigeria to pool resources and fight the dreaded disease
On Saturday, May 17, 2014, the maiden edition of the NSE Corporate Challenge took place and had over 390 runners from 50 companies who participated in the race. The second edition which held on Saturday, May 16, 2015 saw more than 500 runners representing about 60 companies participated at the event. The participation of the Chocolate City music group led by its ace musician Jude Abaga popularly known as MI further affirms the acceptance, support and relevance of the NSE corporate challenge.
Speaking during the event, the Executive Director, Market Operations and Technology, NSE, Mr. Ade Bajomo, said “We are glad with the increased participation in this year’s edition of our corporate challenge, this is a testament to the collective aspiration of corporate Nigeria to raise the awareness level and contribute to this drive to reduce deaths arising from cancer.”
Several companies such as Diamond Bank, Lafarge, Caverton, StanbicIBTC Bank, Zenith Bank, FCMB, FirstBank, Guinness Nigeria, GlaxoSmithKline, MTN and Cadbury threw their financial support for the event by taking up various sponsorship categories to contribute their quota towards the acquisition of the MCCs.
To raise the awareness level, Channels Television, AIT, Nigeria Info FM, TV Continental, CNBC Africa and Proshare partnered as media supporters offering free airtime to educate the public and seek participation as well as sponsorship. All of these conversations and those from social media contributed to making the hash tag #nsecorporatechallenge trend on the day of the race.
After eighteen minutes, Esther Obiekwe of Diamond Bank PLC emerged the overall winner. She was followed by Francis Inyang of ChapelhillDenham and Sikiru Saheed Aliu of Lead Securities Investment Limited.
Commenting on the race, Esther said ´We see the race as an ideal platform to add our voice to the call for physical fitness among busy executives and Nigerians in general. Our bank sees a link between being physically fit and wholesome wellness and the ability of executives to perform optimally at work.”
“We thank The NSE for organizing such an amazing event. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone who took part at the event when I say that it was incredible. Although it was not my first time of participating in this race, I must say that this year’s event has been the best year of all. We will be back in 2016” she added.
The Fight Continues
The second edition of the NSE Corporate Challenge may have come and gone, but the fight against cancer continues. The NSE and CECP are championing noble cause that requires the support of all to help stamp out cancer or reduce its fatality through early detection. This point will come home when one recalls the popular figures that this country has lost to cancer – chief Gani Fawehinmi, a renowned lawyer, former minister and senator of the federal republic, professor Uche Chukwumerije, notable fashion designer Remi Lagos to mention a few.
But just as these ones have bow to the call of cancer, there are positive stories of survivors who through proper and early detection have survived cancer and they include, Governor Sullivan Chime, Professor Wole Soyinka, Her Excellency Dame Abimbola Fashola, ace musician Bankole Wellington (Banky W). In the global space, the stories of Lance Armstrong, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, and Ronald Reagan all come to mind. It is time to join the race against cancer in Nigeria.
Published:June 14, 2015. By By Joseph Kadiri
Copyright © 2015 Bendel Newspapers Company Limited (BNCL)